Air China’s in-flight magazine has advised London visitors to take ‘precautions’ when entering areas populated by “Indians, Pakistanis and black people”, according to a media report.
Air China’s ‘Wings of China’ carries a long feature on visiting London, with almost a third of the magazine dedicated to tourist attractions in Britain’s capital and other famous towns such as Oxford, the CNBC reported.
The main article, titled “London the city of ‘hat tricks’,” covers Britons’ apparent fondness for all kinds of hats.
Then, after a section on transport options and lifestyle and cultural activities in London, Wings of China offers some “Tips from Air China.”
“London is generally a safe place to travel, however precautions are needed when entering areas mainly populated by Indians, Pakistanis and black people,” China’s flagship carrier advises, according to CNBC journalist Haze Fan who highlighted the snippet on London safety on her Twitter account.
“We advise tourists not to go out alone at night, and females always to be accompanied by another person when travelling,” the advice states.
The advice is at odds with the London promoted by its Mayor Sadiq Khan, a British national with Pakistani parents, who in July launched a #LondonisOpen campaign and frequently blogs about his favorite places to eat and drink in his South London Indian-Pakistani neighbourhood of Tooting.
“This is offensive and I hope AirChina will remove this magazine and apologise immediately,” Virendra Sharma, Labour MP for Ealing Southall, tweeted.
Chinese companies have been criticised previously for their depictions of various races. In May, a Chinese laundry detergent-maker apologised for an advertisement that showed an Asian woman shoving a dirt-smeared black man into a washing machine, only for him to emerge as a clean Asian man.
Sharma demanded an apology from Air China for “blatant racism”.
In a statement, Sharma said, “Today I have written in the strongest possible terms to His Excellency Mr Liu Xiaoming, Ambassador Extraordinary & Plenipotentiary of the People’s Republic of China, to raise my concerns about reports of racism in their inflight magazine.”
“I am shocked and appalled that even today some people would see it as acceptable to write such blatantly untrue and racist statements. I have raised this issue with the Chinese Ambassador, and requested that he ensures an apology is swiftly forthcoming from Air China, and the magazine is removed from circulation immediately,” he said.
Sharma said he has invited representatives of Air China to visit his constituency of Ealing, Southall, to see that a very multi-cultural area is safe, and would be of great value for those visiting London to see.
“I will await their response, and if an appropriate one is not forthcoming I shall feel forced to question whether Air China is a fit company to operate in the UK,” he said.